What is a Synod?

There has been great consternation in the Church lately concerning the Amazonian Synod.  Opinions from all perspectives, concern of what it might mean for the Church, and no shortage of unnecessary worry.  At this juncture, it is helpful to remember what a synod actually is.

A synod is simply an assembly of Bishops and others meeting to discuss matters of church doctrine and practice.  The name ‘synod’ is applied to any such official assembly, from a diocesan synod all the way to an ecumenical council.  The ultimate impact of any synod is limited to the geographical area it represents. In the case of the Amazonian synod, its impact applies only to those dioceses that are under the jurisdiction of the Bishops attending the assembly.  This means that, as controversial as some of the topics or goings-on maybe, the procedures and discussions of the Amazonian synod have no impact whatsoever on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which is subject to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In the military I learned a life lesson that serves well in this situation: “Do not worry about things you cannot control.”  Not worrying about the synod and its details does not mean that I don’t care; it means that because there are serious issues at hand, it is critical that we pray for those who are directly involved and for those who will be impacted by their decisions.  Our prayer should be that God will inspire and guide all those involved, so that the Divine Will may be accomplished to the greatest extent possible.

For the greater glory of God,

Fr. Matt